A family can come in all shapes and sizes these days and many children are born outside of marriage. In these instances, legal procedures may be necessary to establish the paternity of the father of the child.
A recent appellate court decision may have set a new precedent concerning paternity rights in certain circumstances. The case that led to the ruling involved a couple who divorced nearly two years after their child was born. Because the couple was married at the time of the child's birth, the husband was legally presumed to be the child's father, but after the divorce, the wife found out that another man was the father of the child as a result of their affair. The wife and the child's father have since married and she has sought to remove the husband's rights as the presumed father. The court ruled that even with this presumption and a divorce order governing custody and support rights, a husband's paternity is not permanently assumed.
As mentioned above, when a child is born during the course of a marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. This grants custody and visitation rights to the husband with regard to the child. In this case, the presumption was been challenged due to the mother's belief that her partner in an extra-marital affair was the father of the child. In cases where the mother and presumed father are not married at the time of a child's birth, paternity of the presumed father may be established voluntarily or through legal action. The presumed father can acknowledge that the child is his by completing a legitimation form. Additionally, DNA testing may be ordered by a court to determine paternity. Once paternity has been established, the father is granted custody and visitation rights and also may be subject to a child support obligation, under certain circumstances.
Many parents are subject to child support orders and also may benefit from physical and legal custody rights or visitation rights. A father seeking to establish paternity, as well as orders related to child support, custody, or visitation of a child may seek the counsel of a family law attorney to guide them through the process.
Source: The Oakland Press, "Appellate court backs biological father's rights in Macomb County case," Jameson Cook, July 18, 2014